Concerning subtle body

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Our entire existence in this universe is determined by the law of karma. According to that all-pervasive law we receive a subtle body, as well as physical body. Among them subtle body is of higher nature, as it is carries us from one physical body to another in the course of time, and everything that makes us incarnating again exists in that body (like programmed code).

“Based on Lagn and the Grahas, joining and departing from each other, the native’s good and bad effects are deducted.”(Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, chapter 3, slokas 4-6)

We can understand our physical body more easily as it is much more tangible, but understanding subtle body is another story. If we understand and help our physical body (by medicine, yoga, ayurveda etc.) it can be very beneficial for us rest assured. But if we manage to understand subtle body at least to some extent, it has the potential of elevating our existence even beyond this short life.

For that we must first understand what is subtle body and how it manifests itself. According to Lord Krishna (as he told Arjuna in Bhagavat Gita):

bhoomiraaponalo vayuhu kham mano buddhireva cha |
ahankaara iteeyam me bhinnaa prakritirashtadhaa |

(Earth, water, fire, wind and space, along with mind, ego and intellect, in this manner, this is my eight-fold differentiated nature.)

 

Thereby we can infer that subtle body comprises ego, mind and intellect envelopes. Ego (we can also call it false ego, as ego is always false by nature) has to do with our desires, that come from our ignorance, as desires deriving from our false self-identity impel us to incarnate again. Ego can be associated with causal body, since it is the main cause of all desires.

Mind and intellect are also parts of subtle body, being other envelopes, but they act in a different manner. Mind as our capacity to perceive things, to feel and to experience emotions plays a role of an instrument that is needed in order to make it possible for us to experience whatever we want and need to. Intellect plays the same role, though it is different from the mind (and it is said in ancient texts that intellect is of higher nature) as it gives us ability to discern, judge, operate with abstract categories, deal with paradoxes and so on. This is an instrument of incomprehensible complexity.

So, how can we possibly know about our subtle body – what are the causes that make us go into the womb after death to be born again, and what are the instruments (mind and intellect) we have for fulfillment of  our desires and satisfaction of ego ? I believe the best way to know yourself is spiritual practices (particularly meditation), but we can also get some important clues using ancient texts of Vedic astrology.

In Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra (chapter 3, s. 12-13) it is stated that Sūrya [the Sun] is the soul of all. Candr is the mind. Mangal is one’s strength. Budh is speech-giver, while Guru confers Knowledge and happiness. Śukr governs semen (potency), while Śani denotes grief.

From that statement we can deduce that the Sun (Surya) reflects the soul of all beings in this world, while the Moon represents mind. As knowledge and speech innately have to do with intellect, we can infer that Mercury and Jupiter naturally guide it.

Now going back to a subtle body I assume that the Sun can give us a clue regarding what causes us to reincarnate as, in my opinion, it reflects a causal body at least to some extent. It shows what a soul wants (and needs) to experience in this lifetime. Most likely it doesn’t show our ego; and here I’m willing to agree with the statement made in ancient text of Saravali (chapter 4, s. 1-2) that Rahu is ego.

Now we need to advert to more technical information. In order to see clues about causal body we have to examine the position of the Sun in birth horoscope: its position in main (d-1) chart (sign and house), in shastyamsha chart (d-60), in navamsa (d-9) and exmine its nakshatra and pada. Look at the sign placement to see how a soul wants to manifest in this world and house to see in what area of life this manifestation is likely to be experienced. By analyzing nakshatra and pada of the Sun, you can get further clues about the nature of causal body.

The same concepts can be applied in analysis of the Moon (mind). The sign and nakshatra of the Moon would show you how you tend to feel and experience emotions, while house placement hints at what area of life is likely to become the main focus of your mind and source of emotional waves. Nakshatra and pada are of utmost importance in this case. In the same manner you can see what your intellect is predisposed to, by looking at Jupiter and Mercury (I would say Mars also, as Mangal is related to logic) and assessing their strengths and weaknesses.

Of course it requires much time and contemplation, but if you draw on intuition and apply those concepts, there is a good chance you’ll get to know yourself better. And self-knowledge is invaluable.

Hope it was helpful and feel free to comment and discuss.

Nakshatras

I want to tell you briefly about an ancient astrological system which is though related to well known 12 signs of the zodiac, yet very different and interesting. It is about nakshatras.

This is a unique system found only in traditional Vedic astrology as it came to us from ancient times. Basically it divides ecliptic onto 27 parts, 13.2 degrees each. They are related to the Moon, as moon traverses approximately 13.2 degrees each day (it is said that all 27 nakshatras are the wives of Chandra (the Moon) actually).

Imagine a planet (let it be the Sun) moving gradually across the zodiac. We all know that it takes a month for the Sun to cross one zodiac sign. Now try to imagine how many people can be born during one month. It would be quite naïve to think that such big amount of people would carry characteristics of one sign, related to the Sun. This is where subtle astrology comes into play – nakshtras. For instance, person born in the second half of November would have Sun in Scorpio and person born in the first half of December would also have Sun in Scorpio. But the  former person would have Sun in Anuradha nakshatra, whereas the letter in Jyeshtha nakshatra.

But that is not all, as each nakshatra is divided by 4 parts (they are called padas), each 3.20 degrees. And two persons born with interval of 3 days of, let’s say, second part of November would have quite different personalities (related to significations of the Sun).

One important thing to know about nakshatras is that every one of them has its ruler (one of the 9 planets in Vedic astrology). For instance, Anuradha nakshatra is ruled by Saturn and Jyeshtha is ruled by Mercury. Every one of 4 padas of each nakshatra also has its ruler.

There are many useful techniques involving nakshatras. You could use them for better understanding of personal traits of someone by looking at what nakshatras their Moon, Ascendant and Sun are positioned. Traditionally it is the Moon, which considered the most important planet regarding personal traits (as the Moon represents our mind). So, the sign which the Moon is, can reveal a lot about a person, but if you know the Nakshatra of the Moon (and pada), you may be able to know much more.

Of course you would need to know more about nakshatras (their symbolism etc.) to grab the meaning of planetary positions, but the general rule is that each nakshatra carries qualities of the ruling planet. For example, Moon in Pushya nakshatra would have certain qualities of the Saturn, as Pushya is ruled by Saturn. Also keep in mind that all planets may behave in different ways in one and the same nakshatra, as some energies are conducive to expression of atributes of a certain planet and some are not.

I believe that everyone should know at least a nakshatra, in which the Moon was at the time of birth, as it can be really helpful in understanding our own personalities and perhaps making some adjustments.

Some takeaways regarding meditation

Yoga and meditation are great tools for elevating yourself into higher levels of consciousness and self-realization. But often times these practices are quite difficult to follow persistently. There are several reasons for that, and I’d like to focus on some of them and to point out how to make meditation more convenient.

Everyone who ever tried to meditate for at least 15 minutes, knows how hard it is actually. This is because when we one-on-one with ourselves, we have to deal with our mind. And you can find in numerous meditation and yoga guides such advices as “clear you mind”, “get rid of thoughts and worries” and so on. But the thing is, you can’t “defeat” your mind, just because it is very powerful. Ancient sages compared mind with a mighty furious elephant. There is no way you can pacify your mind, grappling with it; you will lose eventually.

I remember when I started to practice yoga about 7 years ago, I began with Tibetan techniques, which taught to pacify mind and that was quite frustrating first. But then I realized that those techniques were not meant to teach you to completely clear you mind (which is impossible), but rather to train your mental abilities and make you more focused and disciplined in spiritual practices.

When there is only you and your mind, it will always try to thwart all you attempts to meditate and focus on your inner self. It will use any tricks, doing so. For instance, your mind will try to convince you that it’s not possible for you to meditate, or it’s not worth doing it at all and so forth. The key thing here is not to fight with your mind, let it be and let all the thoughts come in you head; you just ignore them. Instead, focus on something (I recommend focusing on 6th chakra, which is located between your eyebrows and slightly above or 4th chakra in heart area, but it can be any point in space and time actually). In the course of time thoughts will start diminish by themselves gradually, without you exerting any efforts in that direction. And if not, just keep ignoring them.

The next important thing is that many people who are interested in meditation often have high expectations regarding the results of that process. That inevitably puts psychological pressure on them and when they don’t get fast result, they have hoped for or they don’t see any progress, frustration comes. To avoid this, just don’t expect much of yourself, don’t thing about the result at all; instead focus on the process and enjoyment you can derive from it and let the rest take care of itself. Remember that you are not in control of things in this world eventually. Just be.

Another thing I want to mention is that it is always better to put off your meditation if you feel fatigue, flustered or under a serious pressure. In such cases it is a good idea to deal with all those problems as fast as possible, since this is the best way to cope with any sort of impediments. It is good to be calm and focused, when you start your meditation process.

Time you choose to meditate is quite important factor as well. The best time is either sunrise or sunset (the twilight time seems to be conducive to deep mental activities).

Asana (posture) you use when meditating must be comfortable enough to stay in at least for half an hour without feeling much discomfort. I prefer siddh asana, which is a bit downgraded version of the famous and highly praised lotus position.

Speaking about environment, it’s all up to your personal preferences. I like to have quiet ambient sounds (or music even, e.g. one of my favorite artists – Mystical Sun) on the background when I meditate. Others may prefer silence.

The last (but not the least) important consideration I’d like to bring to your attention is that you can’t look at your spiritual practice separately from the rest of you life. The purport is that if you aspire to advance on spiritual path, perhaps you have to change your life-style (or at least some of you habits), since such things as indulgence in sense gratification, intake of alcohol or drugs, treating badly others and lack of discipline can seriously hamper or deny overall progress on the path of self-realization.

Dharma and Vedic astrology

There is a concept according to which human life is based on 4 pillars (representing aspirations of humans), namely dharma, artha, kama and moksha. Today’s topic is dharma, which is a path that eventually leads a person to self-realization through religion, knowledge, spirituality and enlightenment. Dharma is what we are supposed to do in this life, what Universe wants us to do. But not everyone follows a dharmic path at any given life-time for various reasons (usually because person is not ready yet to make that next step due to some desires remaining unfulfilled and some karmic knots untangled). With the help of Vedic astrology we can even comprehend (to a certain extent) what is the person’s capacity for following dharmic path.

So, how can we see dharma of a person in general by means of Vedic astrology ? Of course there are many things to take into account, and in order to come to some conclusion, the whole birth chart is to be analyzed, but I just want to make it more simple and point out three main concepts.

Those concepts are:

1 Lord of the ninth house and 9th house itself

2 Jupiter

3 Saturn

Let’s consider them in that order, though all 3, in fact, are somewhat of equal importance.

Why 9th house and not any other ? That is because ninth house is a house of dharma itself in vedic astrology. It is stated in Bhrigu Sutras that 9th house signifies faith, wisdom, divine worship, meditation and bhagya (luck) among other things. Therefore everything that allows and facilitates person’s progress on the path of dharma is seen from the 9th house of horoscope.

First of all, see what planets are situated in the 9th house (if any). Benefic planets like Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and Moon do good there, while malefic ones (Saturn, Mars, Rahu and Ketu) are not so comfortable there. But you have to always look at the dignity of planets. If there is a malefic planet in the 9th house in it’s sign of exaltation or own sign, it must be considered as a very auspicious placement. Similarly a badly placed benefic planet in 9th house is of not much help and may actually harm this house.

The lord of the ninth house is as important as the house itself, if not more. So you should look where it is situated first of all. The best position for the 9th lord is any of trikon houses (1, 5 and 9), kendra or angular houses are also good placement (1, 4, 7 and 10). 2nd and 11th houses are more neutral and 6th, 8th and 12th are not a good placement for the 9th lord generally. However, even if ninth lord is in 6th, 8th or 12th house, but in exaltation or own sign, it is not bad. But the best positions of all for 9th lord are first, tenth, fifth and ninth house. Sign in which ninth lord is situated must also be evaluated.

Let’s talk about Jupiter now. In Vedic astrology Jupiter (or Guru) is known as Brihaspati, preceptor of demigods. Basically everything signified by the 9th house is also signified by Jupiter as he is the natural karaka (signification) of the 9th house. Strong Jupiter in a birth chart makes a person law abiding, honest, sincere and dutiful. Such person is likely to have good morals. In contrary, badly placed Jupiter makes it hard to follow the righteous path in life.

In order to see how good or bad Jupiter is placed in a horoscope you should assess many factors, but let’s pick out the most important.

  • House placement (the best positions – 1, 5, 9)
  • Sign it is in the main birth chart (Sagittarius, Cancer and Pisces are the best signs for Jupiter, while Capricorn, Virgo, Taurus and Gemini are not so good)
  • Sign it is in the D-60 chart, Shastyamsha. This factor is of great importance, because Maharishi Parasara has given it even greater value than he has to D-1 chart. True dignity of a planet is seen through this chart. For instance, if a planet is debilitated in D-1, but in its own sign or exalted in D-60, then it must be considered strong.
  • Signs it is in D-9 and D-3 divisional charts. The rule is the same here – planet gains strength, when it is in own sign, sign of exaltation or benefic sign (unless debilitated).
  • See what planets are together with Jupiter (only in main birth chart) in one sign and what planets aspect it. General rule – benefic aspects and conjunctions are good, malefic ones are not so good. Exceptions are: aspect of exalted malefic (exalted planet doesn’t do harm as stated by Parasara himself) and conjunction with Ketu (south node of the Moon).

 

Finally comes the slowest and most misunderstood planet – Saturn ! It might seem odd to you that I include Saturn in topic about dharma as Saturn is not related to dharma directly, being the main planet of karma. But everything is connected, and so is karma and dharma. I would say that it is hard to follow dharma, having “not so good” karma.

Saturn teaches to be patient, humble, compassionate and disciplined. It shows us our boundaries. And well placed Saturn does that good. But here is the tricky thing about Saturn. If Saturn is strong in one’s chart it doesn’t mean such person is not going to suffer at some point in life. In contrary, strong Saturn will make sure he teaches you all the lessons properly and the ways of teaching are often very unpleasant and harsh in such case, but eventually they give good results. Behavior of weak Saturn is hard to predict, as it mainly depends on house placement, conjunctions and aspects, but generally it would give much fear, anxiety and morals may suffer (as a person doesn’t see boundaries well).

In order to assess strength of Saturn, follow the same principles as were given in case with Jupiter.

What is freedom ?

I was reading The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky recently (for the second time actually) and particularly my favourite part, where Ivan tells his “poem” about The Great Inquisitor to Alyosha, when I found out how innately some thoughts of that brilliant author correlate with some of my thoughts; and I decided to share some of them with you.images

Dostoevsky writes (1879, ch. 5):

Judge Thyself who was right — Thou or he who questioned Thee then? Remember the first question; its meaning, in other words, was this: “Thou wouldst go into the world, and art going with empty hands, with some promise of freedom which men in their simplicity and their natural unruliness cannot even understand, which they fear and dread — for nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than freedom.

Many people don’t understand what freedom actually is. It is not freedom to act as you like or do what you want regardless of consequences. That would be, in fact, the opposite of freedom. Freedom is a responsibility to yourself, to others and to the God. Therefore it may be a heavy burden that not everyone is able to bear at any times. Only very strong person, who has developed in course of endless time such qualities as compassion, devotion, detachment, forgiveness and equanimity in face of any kind of adversities is capable of being free. Such person is inevitably highly spiritual by nature. Unfortunately most people don’t posses those qualities. Especially in this day and age. Therefore they seek to reject their freedom, as it feels as a heavy burden for them.

“I tell Thee that man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom he can hand over that gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is born.” (Dostoevsky, 1879, ch.5)

But what freedom innately is ?  I reckon this is entirely spiritual category. To my mind, freedom is a state of being of a living-entity, when there is no fear of giving love and receiving love, for truly be in love (regardless if it is about another person or entire Universe) one must become thoroughly open. And this is exactly what scares that much, since when you are open, you become vulnerable as there are no more walls between you and other world. This require being on a high step of spiritual evolution; for that ego must be overcome to a great extent, which is by no means an easy task…

Thereby I infer that freedom is love. Where freedom or love is, there is no fear.

The truth is that a living-entity grounded in this reality is able to achieve perfection, which is absolute freedom and love in a single moment; but the only thing that deters it from that is itself. God is always ready to accept us, waiting when we are ready to accept him, as a father always waits for his child, wherever he or she may be.

During the conversation, The Great Inquisitor tells Him: “By showing him so much respect, Thou didst, as it were, cease to feel for him, for Thou didst ask far too much from him — Thou who hast loved him more than Thyself! Respecting him less, Thou wouldst have asked less of him” (Dostoevsky, 1879, ch.5). Those words substantiate what I said above – we are offered everything we need from the very beginning, but we are so foolish and ignorant that we rather reject it and continue to seek so called “happiness” in this world. However, courage, vigilance and devotion are required in order to be on the right way – qualities, so many of us lack…

Ironically enough, words of The Great Inquisitor find their expression in so many ways in our lives. Whether it is in a personal relationships, when one offers another respect, equality and freedom and the other runs away, frightened by that gift; or on the more global scale, when the majority of a nation readily rejects their rights and freedom, kneeling before some foolish tyrant, in exchange of “bread” and promised greatness.

I’m concluding with another citation from immortal work of Dostoevsky (1879, ch. 5):

But then the beast will crawl to us and lick our feet and spatter them with tears of blood. And we shall sit upon the beast and raise the cup, and on it will be written, “Mystery.” But then, and only then, the reign of peace and happiness will come for men.

Misconception about Satan (Devil)

 

I want to share my thoughts with regard to the conception of the Devil (or Satan) which exists among many people (mainly related to abrahamic religions) throughout the world. For centuries the figure of Satan has served as personification of all hidden fears that exist in minds and souls of men and women. It is said even that Fallen Angle is responsible for initial fall of first people (Adam and Eve) according to ancient Jewish and Christian scripts. He is often perceived as a serpent, the great deceiver and seducer, who has distinct demonic qualities and appearance.

However there is a great misconception about the figure of  “Devil”. I believe that it has its roots in psychology of human-beings. As everyone in this world suffers in one way or another, in the course of time people found esoteric “explanation” to their sufferings, which was nothing else but the embodiment of evil – Satan.

But the thing is the nature of this world itself causes sufferings of different kinds (all people have to undergo birth, deceases, old age and death; and there is no way to escape those states). Since living-being comes into this world by its own will in order to fulfill its wishes through senses gratification, we can conclude that human-being is itself the source of its sufferings in this world.

But human’s psychology is complicated, and that idea is not easily accepted (more often than not this idea remains out of conscious grasp). There must be someone or something else, who causes us to suffer, otherwise we would be living in a paradise, – is a typical model of thinking of such people. Thereby, the concept of devil appeared as an attempt to project human’s weakness on someone else.

Let’s consider main reasons that may prove this point of view. I rely on rational thinking and Vedic knowledge (as I consider this kind of knowledge superior).

The first important aspect is view of Satan as someone who works ultimately for things considered evil to happen. Thereby he is viewed as someone who always aims at vitiating all good things in this world. But here is one of the most simple and beautiful truths – all things in this world work together for good eventually. Whether one can see it or not, things have always been that way, and always will be. Only a weak mind, veiled by a strong ego considers that there is some absolute evil, that spoils lives of people and creates disharmony.

Another important thing to understand is that there is no one equal to God or better than him. Satan in abrahamic religions is often depicted in such a way that it is implied that he opposes God. In fact no one is able to act against God’s will eventually, since he is in everything and everything is in him. He is a source of everything, be it an insect or a mighty demon.

It is well known that Satan is associated with planet Saturn. Some people might even argue that the concept of Satan itself emerged from the perception of Saturn as a very malicious and frightening celestial body. Satan is often portrayed with horns and goat legs, which are distinctive features of the Capricorn, one of the twelve astrological signs, ruled by Saturn.952360-saturn

Saturn indeed is deemed the most malefic planet both in western and Vedic astrology. This is because it is a planet of fears, restrictions, delays, boundaries (remember those rings around it), death and even time itself. Thinking about all those things, it becomes clear why most people are so afraid of influence of Saturn. And from this point of view it is so easy to make Saturn an embodiment of evil.

But it appears that Saturn is very much misunderstood, for he is not a Satan, but a great life preceptor. His lessons well may be harsh and very unpleasant often times, but they have as their ultimate goal to make us learn the reality of life. Saturn operating in our lives through its periods (dasas in Vedic astrology), returns (approximately every 29.5 years complete circle around the Sun) and transits teaches us detachment, equanimity, perseverance, discipline, kindness and forgiveness. It breaks our ego, making us humble and spiritual. Now you probably start seeing how great Saturn is. Saturn is a planet of silence and it is only when we are in silence, in present moment we are able to connect to our inner self and God. That is what “Satan” wants from us. Saturn is also the main karmic planet and its task is to help us fulfill our karma, so we may get out of this circle of life and death.

But if a person commits bad deeds in his or her life, egoistic, doesn’t follow dharmic path and is materialistic by nature, then Saturn will certainly give severe lessons to such person.

Thus it is obvious for me, that there is no Devil or Satan as it exists in minds of millions of people and on pages of religious books. However in a certain sense “Satan” may exist within us, and indeed he does exist within many people who are demonic by nature, who live exclusively for sense gratification, who have forgotten their true nature and who are not willing to accept God.